RAW TC Ford Cortina wins Horsepower Heroes Aspirated V8 class

While turbo street cars are all the rage, some blokes prefer tough, no-nonsense aspirated screamers like this raw TC Cortina

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Update, 9 January 2024

Shadi and RAW TC took at the Aspirated V8 class in the Haltech Horsepower Heroes competition at Summernats 36, with a best of 728hp at the hubs.

The Cortina qualified with a 701hp pull against Jaboc Farrugia’s Mustang’s 709hp, priming the crowd for a tight final. But the Mustang suffered a driveline issue outside of the dyno shed, leaving the TC to romp into first place, with Denis Vidovic’s XB GT in second with 619hp.

The story to here, 27 Oct 2019


What happens when your 600hp XY Falcon is feeling a little flat, and you’re after something more? If you’re Sydney’s Shadi Tobaji, you build a completely bonkers ’72 TC Cortina with an aspirated 890hp Windsor that has gone 8.84@150mph!

This article was first published in the October 2019 issue of Street Machine

Shadi’s other car, a neat orange XY Falcon known as RAW GT, is well known around the traps, having copped plenty of hidings at Summernats, Powercruise and the like. But it wasn’t quite keeping up with Shadi’s needs.

“I wanted more power and a tougher car than RAW GT,” Shadi says. “I built the XY a long time ago and it wasn’t keeping up. I pretty much had to wring its neck to do burnouts and I was killing it, because I had built it as a streeter to put the wife and kids in. I didn’t want to have to chop up RAW GT to build it again, as the money I was going to have to spend to bring the Falcon up to the same level could build a whole second car, so I built a second car to have fun in and not push the limits.”

Shadi named his tough XY Falcon ‘RAW GT’ after the factory-offered Raw Orange colour he painted it. “Everyone knew me from RAW GT, so I figured I’d keep the name going on the Cortina,” he explains. “I like to keep the heritage of the car; I don’t like to take the classic chrome look away. Even with RAW GT, I could put standard wheels and a shaker back on it and you’d think it was a stock Falcon. The Cortina needed to keep its details like the polished grille, as I think it gives the car its identity”

What saved plenty of time and headaches for Shadi was finding a clean TC Cortina shell for sale as a roller, wearing fresh duco and having just been tubbed.

“It was a one-owner car with original keys and logbooks and it was fairly straight,” he says. “The former owner had intentions of making it a tough streeter, but he passed away and his cousin took the build over. After the paint and chassis work was done he decided to put the running gear into another car. I built the GT before and I know the type of heartache you go through with panelwork, so when it popped up already tubbed and painted I jumped on it.”

Ford TC Cortina bootShadi likes to keep his cars rocking a classic style, and the Cortina retains all its original chrome and polished brightwork. The contrasting black speed stripes lend it a killer period early-70s muscle car vibe, especially over the straight white tinter that was applied by Rydalmere Prestige.

But what isn’t classic and subtle are the rear wheels and tyres. Nanna’s Cortina never ran double beadlocked 15x12in Weld AlumaStars, so the rear wheel tubs were stretched and the rails massaged slightly to allow the race meats to fit under the rear. This also saw the leaf springs go in the bin, replaced by double-adjustable Strange Engineering coil-over shocks and a four-link arm set-up.

“I got JT Performance to finish off the build and they had to go over everything that had been done,” Shadi says. “Apart from the tubs, JT Performance did the rest of the fab work. They did the Panhard rod, brakes, sway-bar, rollcage and ’chute mount, plus they mounted the engine with a custom engine plate, and did the gearbox mount.

“From when I bought the car ’til it hit the streets was about 14 months. Bill knocked the engine out of the park in only three months!” Shadi says. “I love aspirated engines; they have instant power under your foot, no lag, no waiting for boost – the power is always there. Now I have that 8sec pass under my belt I’m stoked, as there are a lot of turbo cars that don’t run those times”

Out back is a nine-inch diff with a Strange Engineering centre and 35-spline axles, with 4.11 gears to zing the tiny sedan along. The Cortina also rocks a TH400 three-speed auto built by Al’s Race Glides, with a 5600rpm SDE converter to pass the power to the ground – and there is plenty of it thanks to Shadi’s goals of running single-digit times with no power-adders.

Bill at BK Race Engines put together one seriously berko aspirated combo, based around a Dart 9.2 Windsor block swinging 443ci and 13.3:1 comp thanks to a 4.1-inch Callies DragonSlayer crank, Oliver rods and custom Diamond pistons. A Bullet Racing solid-roller cam and BAM bushed lifters round out the bottom end, topped off with CHI Pro Series heads, a CHI intake, and an APD 4500 Series four-barrel carby sucking E85 from a MagnaFuel pump and boot-mounted fuel cell.

A custom sump, custom PWR radiator, twin three-inch exhaust running off two-inch primaries, and an MSD electrical system including a dizzy and Grid complete the engine combo. The mill is designed to make grunt but run sweet on the street, and, amazingly, this set-up is good for 889hp on C85 ethanol-based fuel, with zero power-adders or assistance.

“I was very, very impressed with the engine,” says Shadi. “My GT has a 600hp Cleveland, and it is a boat compared to the Cortina, which has another 300hp! We rev it to 8000rpm, and being an aspirated motor you know the power is always under your foot.”

The cabin focuses on simplicity rather than opulence, with Unique Marine & Auto Upholstery outfitting the Cortina with a custom dash fascia and perforated black vinyl trim to go with the Kirkey seats, Racepak display, MOMO tiller and chrome-moly ’cage. “While it has tubs, we managed to get the standard rear seat in it, but I put Kirkeys in the front just for safety while racing,” Shadi says. “I have a pair of Recaros to go in the front once I am done with racing”

Shadi and the Cortina kicked a goal recently, running an 8.84@150mph on a test day at Sydney Dragway. After battling some monster wheelstands previously, he was over the moon to get his eight.

“I got the monkey off my back, finally,” he laughs. “I’m so happy! It didn’t take us long to get the eight, but I’m impatient when it comes to this stuff. I almost put the car on its back bumper a couple of weeks ago when we ran 9.01, so we made a couple of tweaks to the front end and got it done.”

So the big question now is: What does Shadi plan to do with the Cortina now he’s hit his goal at the strip? Thankfully, we’re likely to see even more of it on the Harbour City streets. “I built the car to run an eight and it’s done that now, so I want to just take it out and cruise it on the street and enjoy it,” he says. “I will also take it to Powercruise and those sorts of events, too.”


Paint: White tinter

Brand: Dart Windsor 443ci
Induction: CHI
Carby: APD four-barrel
Heads: CHI Pro Series
Camshaft: Bullet
Conrods: Oliver
Pistons: Diamond
Crank: Callies
Oil pump: Moroso
Fuel system: MagnaFuel pump
Cooling: PWR custom radiator
Exhaust: 2in primaries, 3in system
Ignition: MSD distributor, MSD Grid system

Gearbox: TH400, transbrake
Converter: SDE 5600rpm
Diff: 9in, Strange Engineering centre and 35-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears

Front: Lovells springs, Koni adjustable shocks
Rear: Strange Engineering double-adjustable coil-overs, tubbed rear end, four-link, custom sway-bar
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood

Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 17×4.5 (f), double beadlocked 15×12 (r)
Rubber: M/T 26×6/17 (f), M/T 295/65/15 (r)

Bill at BK Race Engines; Michael & Chris at JT Performance; Al, Brad & Tommy at Al’s Race Glides; Colin Boyd for all the wiring; Jack at Earls; Marcus at Hi Octane Coatings; Jason & George at Rocket; George at GT Auto Body; my brothers Sid, George and Joe; my nephew Simon; my mates John, TJ, Rob, Paul, Franny, Jono and Sam Danaskos; last but not least, my wife Jade and my kids Eli and Mariah